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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday Sermon: An Enigma Of Berkeley Square

Recently, Mike, at Genial Misanthrope , listed some pivotal points in history he'd like to visit. He and Armchair Squid, with his cinematic fun,  have got me thinking about time-travel movies. On my blog profile page, in 2008, I listed "I'll Never Forget You" as one of my favorites. It was made in 1951. I had only seen it once.

It was summer 50 years ago, in another century,  I was watching tv and saw a movie that permanently and romantically affected my sense of space-time continuum. It starred Tyrone Power, Ann Blyth and Michael Rennie, and then it was gone --it was gone for half a century! I looked in film catalogues in the '70s,  video stores in the'80s and '90s, then lately in Hulu and Netflix. It was never available, until last night. I found it on Youtube. For  those who wish to spend a pleasant hour and a half (and do click the "full screen" box, lower right) I will post it here:

Video Clip:"I'll Never Forget You"

                       
The story is an interesting one. The story of the story is interesting too. It was first used as the plot for the book, A Sense Of The Past, by New York-born novelist Henry James, brother of philosopher William James, who often went famously east --not to be confused with brothers Jesse and Frank James, who  went infamously west. The novel was left unfinished. However, playwright John L. Balderston was so taken with it that he used the story for the stage production, Berkeley Square, in 1926.  The play was successful, and Mr. Balderston was invited to adapt the script to cinema for the 1933 film, which was also successful and not lost for 50 years. It was lost only 40 years, and pieced back together in the 1970s. I found it (also on Youtube) this morning. Here is a clickable link.

The 1933 adaptation is remarkable in that it has Leslie Howard's character insulting a female lead: "Madam, I've seen you in Sheridan's plays. I've read you in Jane Austen's novels...you roll over things like a tank!" --something he never consented to do again. I find I prefer the 1951 film because it better uses stock characters of Restoration Drama, and the sound didn't exacerbate my tinnitus.

I would like to thank the congregation for a kind welcome and assure you your regular pastor will be back next Sunday, or after he settles his gambling debts in 1784 --whichever comes first. Go thou and do likewise.


28 comments:

  1. Okay, when I get home, I'll have to watch this, Geo! Tyrone Power was a favorite of mine, many years ago. I do love time travel books so much, though many, I confess, were Magic Tree House books. I had to hook my seven and eight year old students into the sub-genre somehow! Have a great week!

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    1. Dear Fundy Blue, how I envy you watching this for the 1st time. I sure hope you like it as much as I did.

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  2. I read about the movie and it's plot and think that it is a movie that I would like. Besides, it stars Tyrone Power, an actor who should have won an award for having the best eyebrows in Hollywood.

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    1. Agreed, there really should be an Oscar category for that.

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  3. I know a lot about movies and film history, but this is one I've never heard of. It must indeed be special if it lingered in your memory for 50 years. I will definitely watch it in the hopefully near future.

    Thank goodness for YouTube, which harbors a wealth of films and music that we have lost track of over the years. The other night I discovered the film "Black Orpheus" (on YouTube), which I hadn't seen since I was fourteen.

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    1. I've been delighted with the discovery of old films on YouTube also, Jon. The one I posted included scenes with Boswell and Johnson, Joshua Reynolds and others --and made the lead character and atomic physicist. All fun and informative when I was a teenager --now too!

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  4. You connect so many things together--I didn't know there were so many of the James Gang...

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    1. They were a various group indeed. Perhaps the most troubled was King. Poor King James got deposed in 1688 and still hadn't got over it 200 years later.

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  5. Time travel seems to fascinate us all. If a movie about going to another time has an even halfway decent story people will watch. Do you think it has something to do with the concept of "If I were only (insert age) again...."?

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    1. I'm sure it does, Emma. In spacial dimensions we're able to move forward, back, all directions, and set things right --time is confined to one direction that our minds dream beyond.

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  6. Leslie Howard was such a good actor...and just about every notable movie of the '30s included him. Even his death was interest-inspiring.
    Oh, and let's not forget the James Gang with Joe Walsh......

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    1. His plane was shot down, wasn't it? And he had so much more to do. Howard could turn the most ordinary lines into gold, just by delivering them in his unpretentious way. As Joe Walsh belted, "...it's my stop. I don't want to get off." --in Walk Away.

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    2. You could have found it earlier, the '80's perhaps, if you lived in Seattle. They have a video store, "Scarecrow Video", that is the best one on the planet. It's the video store you've dreamed about, cataloged various ways, directors, subjects, etc....a great place, though it's had to change.

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    3. Mike, they have a conspicuous online presence, which I searched and found a copy of "I'll Never Forget You", and envy those in the vicinity of Roosevelt Wy, NE. What a wonderful video resource!

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  7. Be damned, didn't know about the on line thing. They started in the late 80's, maybe 88? if I remember over near Green Lake, we had a house a couple blocks away. Small at first, VHS and Beta (!), we found all sorts of stuff there. I've heard they've evolved into a co-opt thing, members and all.
    Living in Montana, having things like netflix etc from the kids, I've lost touch with things like that. Hope the younger generation coming up has similar.

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  8. Wow, that is amazing. You had seen that movie once and never forgot about it, even kept looking for it? What are the odds :) So happy you did find it finally and got to see it again!
    I hope you are doing well. All my best wishes to you, too :)

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    1. How can I forget a movie called "I'll Never Forget you?" So glad you commented --and posted your and Keith's progress making your home in Germany.

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  9. Time travel stories are just about my favourite kind of stories, so I watched this movie as soon as I could and enjoyed it completely - thank you! I loved that it also had the odd bit of humour in it - icing on the cake.

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    1. So pleased you watched and enjoyed the film. The 1951 script did indeed make good use of Restoration comedic characters to relieve the seriousness of the story-line.

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  10. Aw, thanks for the mention. I'm quite touched. The movie sounds like fun and the background you provide is very interesting.

    Speaking of touched, I want to know more about that gambling debt! Time travel could get one out of all kinds of jams.

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    1. Oh Squid, I wish a gambling debt in 1784 could be voided or escaped by time travel but honor is timeless and interferes with such improvements to reality.

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    2. You're a good man. I would trust a time machine in your hands.

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  11. Thanks for sending me to the movies. Just finished viewing the film and wonder why I had never seen it. My Grandmother and her 3 sisters and two brothers were English and in the later years shared a large house, much like a boarding house. I was often left there as my parents were out or traveling and they watched everything English on television, including movies on the local station matinees. Well, now you've got me. I'm going in for the 1931 version. Wow!

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    1. My pleasure, Tom. These films should be seen before they get lost again. They're worth it.

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  12. Wow! You posted a whole movie on your blog!!! How cool is THAT? (Very cool.)

    It is also very cool that a movie you fell in love with 50 years ago has stood the test of time for you. (So to speak.) I mean, sometimes revisiting a favorite movie or book from our youth can be very disappointing. At least, that's been my experience.

    But THIS... this sounds like a super movie. I'll definitely check it out later. Thanks, dude.

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    1. Thanks, Susan! Some of these old gems are uploaded whole onto YouTube. I didn't know they did that until a couple weeks ago. Fun!

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  13. I saw many "old" movies on the farm, and never knew they were in color. Tyrone Power was incredible--fencing, leaping from trees, etc.
    Basil Rathbone complimented Tyrone Power on his fencing prowess: "That man could fence his way out of a tri-corner hat."

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    1. Oh gosh, yes! You've seen Rathbone and Power in "The Mark Of Zorro". One of the most energetic and best-choreographed fencing scenes on film ever! Both men were highly skilled with fencing foils, and the compliment was undoubtedly sincere.

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